Last week we lost one of our warriors. Shidokan Atlanta Queen of Combat, Rhonda Balsamello passed away suddenly. I know that we all will transition some day, but it is so sad when we lose someone young and without warning. Rhonda was the toughest fighter we've ever had. She had no fear and was always ready to compete. Rhonda was a private person and wouldn't say a lot. She could be shy at times. But through the martial arts, her personality would show. She would was happy when engaged in one on one combat. Karate was truly her way of expressing herself. To those who knew her well, she showed a sense of humor and always went out of her way to help. As a creative person, she designed much of the Shidokan apparel we wear at our gym.
Within a year of training, she was competing in full contact bare knuckle karate tournaments. In keeping the Shidokan Karate concept of being a well rounded martial artist, she also competed in grappling and kickboxing. She found her forte to be Knockdown (bare knuckle) Karate, one of the most difficult forms of competition out there.
She represented our Dojo locally, nationally and internationally. A couple of months ago, she won the Shidokan Japan Cup. Last year she was on her way to this tournament and the night before leaving, her back went out and she couldn't walk. She had back surgery and came back to achieve what most can only dream of, winning a full contact Karate championship in the land of Karate, Japan. She has gained the love and respect of an international Karate organization. She is better well known in other countries than in the U.S.
Here is some footage of Rhonda competing a few years back. I never mined losing my voice yelling and cheering her on. Win, lose, or draw she pushed herself to the limit. She would fight until the end. She could endure the fatigue and pain better than anyone. Fighting is what gave her peace. This is one of my favorites because it shows her dig deep. She may not be with us physically, but her Samurai spirit does.